The other slogan I have lost count of the number of times I have heard is “a calorie is a calorie”. At one level this is meaningless. It’s like saying a car is a car. At any other level it is nonsensical. A calorie is only a calorie under a Bunsen burner. In the human body, calories could not be more different. Some provide nutrition and some are pure empty calories – sugar – providing calories, but no vitamins, minerals, fat, protein – nothing that the body needs or can use.
If we eat 1,500 calories of processed food (which, I show elsewhere in the book, the UK does every day) – we lack what I call ‘calories with a job to do’. The body needs fat, fat soluble vitamins, protein, minerals and water soluble vitamins for its daily activities of basic body maintenance (basal metabolic rate). The body then must encourage you to eat the foods that it needs – and this drives you to eat another 1,500 or so calories.
Or, you become malnourished. We are seeing ‘developed’ nations overfed and suffering malnutrition at the moment – that’s another way of looking at obesity.
In Chapter 2 we look at scientific evidence for the advantage that some calories have over others. We discover that calories are by no means equal and there is a significant benefit of eating certain foods over others. We knew this as far back as 1956, but the evidence has been brushed aside, as it doesn’t fit with the diet message that is being pushed today.